Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Daily Food Chart

Lately, James has been wanting to take a very active part in preparing his meals and so I've been giving him the opportunity to have a little say in what he'd like to eat. As you can imagine, he often makes some not so great choices and if I were to leave it entirely up to him he'd eat nothing but Jell-O and Goldfish crackers. :)

That's when an idea started formulating in my mind. What if I were to create some type of chart that would allow him the freedom to make his own selections, help him to make good choices, and also teach him the basics of good nutrition?

Online I went and discovered this link. LOVE when I run across a like-minded mama! Megan's method is wonderful and if I had a magnetic refrigerator I may have just gone her route, but as I do not I needed to modify it in a way that works for us.

Here's what I came up with:
This is my "all-in-one" version. James can see his food choices (he's very visual like that) and make his selection. I think of this as a menu of sorts as the food images I've chosen are all things James regularly eats. (Yes, you do see a hot dog there. Here I must ask that you don't judge our food choices - I don't claim to be a nutritionist, the best cook, or the healthiest person in the world!)

Alongside each food group shown in the pyramid is an indication of how many servings he'll need per day. The same information is shown in the smaller boxes below the pyramid. Using those numbers as a guide, once James puts together his meal, he'll check off the amounts in the small boxes alongside the corresponding food group. I've added a few extra boxes for special occasions and/or for those instances where food items cross over (e.g. celery with peanut butter and raisins - a favorite of James'). Obviously we'll do the checking off part together since it does take some cross referencing to be sure he's had the proper servings size.

That's where this document comes in useful. On the reverse side of the chart is this handy-dandy reference guide. I've laminated the two back to back for convenience and so we can reuse the chart over and over.

A couple of side notes: If we don't happen to have a particular food item on hand, then James simply makes another choice. Certain graphics, like the cheese graphic, is just a symbol for whatever kind of cheese we have (i.e. slices, string, various flavors). If we go out to eat, we just make a point to fill the chart out when we get home.

As I mentioned, this chart has been specifically tailored for James, but for what it's worth I'm offering it as a free printable to you. Click here to download. You can easily create one of these yourself. I'm by no means computer savvy - I created this in Word, found the images on Google, and cut and paste it all together. Easy-peasy!

~Thank you for your comments!~

23 comments:

mom4 said...

prefect what e been doing last week and this the food pyramid . so off to check out the rest info !
http://abcsofjesshouse.blogspot.com/

Evenspor said...

That's a great idea.

Pastiche said...

This daily food chart for kids to track their meal choices against the food pyramid is great. I've added it as a recommended resource to Star Charts: Reward and Chore Charts for Kids. I'm also sharing this with my daughter to use with her toddler who's a real foodie.

Susan-Chasing Marcus said...

HI Mari-Ann,
I love this! As a registered Dietitian, I am wondering if you could take it a step further, and introduce the plate method with James. I am working on a "plate" job with my felt food for Sophie's school. I already made them a sandwich, hamburger, pizza, omelette where they sort the different types of foods, but the plate method is a great way of enforcing eating a variety of foods at each sitting. Just a though!-Susan

SmallTownLife said...

What a great idea! I love the idea of teaching kids to make healthy food choices without stressing calories and dieting. I think this is a great way to introduce them to healthy eating before the teenage years when they will be making more choices on their own. Great job!

Joey said...

I love all of your ideas and today I just want to add some 'food for thought'...
All carbs turn to sugar so I would suggest switching the grain serving size with the vegetable.
Just a thought!? :o)
~ joey ~

Counting Coconuts said...

Thanks for your input, Joey! I was just going off of the RDA. :)

The Knitty Gritty Homestead said...

This is just what I need to get through the summer...I've created a visual schedule, a weekly meal plan, and monthly calendar to help keep things somewhat structured/rhythmic...but with one dairy/gluten intolerant first grader, one picky almost-kindergartener, and one toddler! I love letting kids have control over what they eat (some control...it would be hotdogs 24/7 here too if they were allowed!!)...great way to build healthy eating habits as they grow. Thanks for sharing!

abohemianeducation said...

This is super awesome! Thanks for sharing.http://abohemianeducation.wordpress.com/.

Ludicrous Mama said...

Fabulous idea! I've vaguely introduced the concept of the food pyramid, but the one time I drew one up for her to choose from, to have her help pick her own lunch, she just wanted to color all my food drawings. She does recognize fruit vs vegetable, for the most part (I don't count those tricksy tomatoes!) and we're working on the concepts of "meat," "grains," and "dairy."
Oriental Trading Company has a food pyramid bulletin board set on clearance for $5 and it just arrived today, so I plan to put that up to familiarize her and let her play with putting the food cutouts in the right place, but I love the idea of a Food Pyramid "Menu."

Joanna said...

I love this!!! We are (attempting) to work on proper nutrition and my little guy loves all things visual. We will be trying this out, thank you!
http://www.bananaandbubby.com

Shayla said...

Thanks for creating this! A similar idea has been in my head for awhile. Thanks for sharing!

k8 said...

Would you consider making a printable version of the food pyramid you made? It is precious!! Thanks for sharing.

Counting Coconuts said...

Thank you for your kind comments!

@K8: I did make it available - the link is in the post. You probably just missed it... I know I can get a bit wordy. :)

Christy said...

Thanks for the great suggestions. I was just thinking about doing something like this for my kids. Both of them have a rare type of diabetes and have lately gotten to be very picky eaters. While I don't have to be strict about counting carbohydrates (like a Type 1 diabetic does), I still like them to have a balanced diet. I have also been looking at the glycemic index and trying to find low GI foods as they tend to keep their blood sugars more stable than high GI foods. Using something like this I can work in a larger variety instead of the standard sandwich every day. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Counting Coconuts said...

Since a few of you seem to be missing it, I've edited the post so the sentence re the download link appears in bold. I guess it goes to show we're all busy mamas who don't have time to actually read one another's posts word for word! :)

Our Country Road said...

Thank you! GREAT timing for our upcoming lesson. I had in the back of my mind I needed to look for a food chart, I'm very thankful that you took that off my list of things to do or make!!

Humble Mom said...

Thank you for such a wonderful idea, I changed it a little to fit my family, but yours was great to begin with!
http://noorjanan.blogspot.com/2011/11/food-chart.html

Miranda said...

The link isn't working for me! Did I miss the chance to download this? Its amazing, by the way :)

Counting Coconuts said...

Miranda, I'm sorry you had trouble opening it - it worked for me, so I'm not sure what's the matter. There's no deadline on any of my printables. Please try again and let me know if you're still having trouble.

chasepartyof4 said...

This is just what I've been searching for, but the link isn't working. Drat! Can you email me the file? NICE work!

Jen Stokes said...

I love this! I am just preparing to begin teaching this to my 4yo and would love to use this. But I'm having trouble accessing it as well. Would you mind emailing it? Thanks for sharing all this great stuff!

TheCrudenFamily said...

I just found this food chart on pinterest. Thanks so much for posting. This is amazing!!!!!!!

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